The NY Jets are one of a handful of teams that remain interested in signing four-time Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook. Cook's recent social media activity combined with persistent rumors has many believing that a deal could be reached in the near future.
However, don't be fooled by Cook's impressive box score numbers. He's not the player he used to be.
Let's get one thing straight first — this isn't to suggest that the Jets shouldn't sign Cook under any circumstances. The soon-to-be 28-year-old is still a capable veteran running back who would improve the Jets' roster.
Cook would immediately be the second-best running back on the Jets roster and provide much-needed depth behind a still-rehabbing Breece Hall. It's easy to see why the Jets are interested, but that doesn't mean they should be the team that signs him.
Why the NY Jets probably shouldn't sign Dalvin Cook
At his peak, Cook was undoubtedly one of the best running backs in football. And just by looking at his box score numbers, you'll still see a player who rushed for over 1,100 yards on 4.4 yards per carry in 2022.
The problem is that running back performance shouldn't be gauged by looking at simple box score figures. They never tell the whole story, and Cook is the best example of that.
Despite rushing for 1,173 yards last season, Cook ranked dead last in the entire NFL in RYOE (rushing yards over expected). This was despite Cook's expected yards per carry ranking in the top 10 in the NFL.
This means that Cook was frequently put in favorable positions by a Minnesota Vikings offensive line that finished with the fourth-highest Pro Football Focus run-blocking grade but that he significantly underachieved.
Cook also ranks near the bottom of all qualified running backs in DVOA and EPA per carry — two figures that are generally very predictive of future success when it comes to running backs.
On top of that, even if you want to ignore the analytics, Cook still ranks first among all running backs in fumbles over the last four years and third in drops over that same time frame.
In the past, Cook's efficiency as a runner helped make up for his fumble and drop issues. Now, that just isn't the case anymore.
Cook isn't completely washed, and he's likely the best of the veteran running backs on the market, but his asking price is likely significantly higher than he's worth.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported earlier this month that Cook is seeking a "significant contract" in free agency and that he isn't likely to accept a deal worth $4-5 million per season. If you ask me, even $4-5 million is too much for what Cook brings to the table at this stage.
The Jets should focus their attention (and available cap space) on adding players that move the needle more than Cook does. We're talking DeAndre Hopkins (no matter how unlikely that might be) and Kwon Alexander.
Hopkins, unlike Cook, is still producing at a very high level and remains a borderline WR1. Alexander fills a significant need on defense and can likely be had for cheap.
Dalvin Cook is a fine running back who would absolutely help the Jets address a potential need. He's a quality backup running back, but that's really all he is at this stage.
The Jets shouldn't pay Cook anywhere near what he's asking. Don't be tricked by the fool's gold that is Dalvin Cook in the year 2023. He's just not that guy anymore, and the numbers (and film) prove it.